A favorite among early Tesla owners, installing a NEMA 14-50R outlet (“NEMA 14 50” for short) for home charging is an economical and flexible solution. The outlet itself can be had for about $9.00. Springing for a wall plate to finish the look will set you back another $3.00. Starting earlier this year, an adapter to charge your Tesla on this outlet will have to be purchased as an accessory for $35.
Cost of installation
The cost of installation will largely depend on your locale, permitting requirements and how far from your electrical panel the outlet will be installed. The latter point is perhaps the most important consideration, as the appropriate gauge of copper (#6), comes with an added cost per foot. Installing through walls, particularly exterior home walls, adds complexity and thus cost. Underground runs will add the most cost, as disturbing and then replacing landscaping or concrete would be required.
At my home, we chose to install the outlet next to the electrical panel inside our garage, even though this means it’s on the wrong side of the car when parked. It gave us flexibility to charge the car in the driveway as well. This simple installation came with minimal cost and effort, as a friend was able to do the install. In the case of my in-laws’ home, a licensed electrician did the install on the outside of their home for $250.00 including materials but not permits. They live in an extremely low cost locale so this price can reasonably double in a major metro.
Note: it is highly recommended that regardless of which electric vehicle charging solution you choose, you have the equipment installed by a licensed and insured electrician and pull all necessary permits.
Charging a Tesla
When paired with the mobile connector that comes with every new vehicle, a Tesla can pull up to 32 or 40 amps, depending on model. At 40 amps, a classic Model S 85 adds about 29 miles of rated range per hour while a Model 3 Long Ranges adds up to 37 miles per hour. A short or mid-range Model 3, with the current Generation 2 Mobile Connector that draws 32 amps can add up to 30 miles of rated range per hour, still requiring that most drivers need only to charge for about 2 hours per day for average daily driving needs. I have had a mobile connector plugged into this outlet for nearly 5 years, only removing it for long trips.
Charging other EVs
One of the things that makes installing a NEMA 14 50 outlet a worthwhile option is that there are flexible charging solutions for other electric vehicles that can be paired with this outlet. Whether you want to switch EV brands in the future or want to later market you home as “EV ready” this option is ideal. A Clipper Creek HCS-50P level 2 charger plugs right into the NEMA 14 50 outlet, no additional electrician required. Clipper Creek has a handy chart that shows how long it takes to charge various models of electric vehicles using their equipment.
A note on electrical service requirements
Many modern homes are built with electrical service (“breaker panels”) of 200 amps. Rarely, old homes may have 60 amp service and often, homes have 100 amp service. Your electrician will tell you whether your panel has the capacity to allow for a 50 amp breaker (for 32 or 40 amp use). For the first year of having a Tesla, my home had 100 amp service and we never had a problem charging the car even with central air running. I later upgraded to a 200 amp panel while getting solar panels, so there is plenty of room.
If you’ve had a NEMA 14 50 installed, let us know your experience and installation costs in the comments!